Appearing on comedian Bill Maher’s program Friday evening, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol ripped the host’s claim that the Tea Party movement was spawned five years ago just because President Barack Obama is black.
Maher had originally started the panel segment by arguing that the Tea Party movement started because of bailouts – and was wrong about bailouts. “Let me start with what I mentioned in the monologue – the fifth anniversary this week of the Tea Party,” Maher said. “And I mention this because I also saw in the news last week that Fannie Mae paid back 109 percent of what they borrowed. This is the Tea Party’s big issue, right? Bailouts? Too much socialism? If you’re keeping score, AIG, another one of the big bailouts, they paid back 115 percent. The bank industry paid back 103 percent. The car industry, they’re lagging at 83 percent. But basically we got most if not all of the money back. Socialism works sometimes, doesn’t it?”
Kristol fired back, saying “no” and pointing out how the bailouts started under the George W. Bush administration. That prompted Maher to interject, “Well, the Tea Party condemned them?”
“The Tea Party condemned a lot of things it was right to condemn,” Kristol responded, before adding, “That was not the origin of the Tea Party. What was the origin of the Tea Party five years ago? It was about a mortgage bill, and it was about Obamacare, and it was about the stimulus.”
Maher then claimed the entire Tea Party movement was racist. “It was about a black president,” he said.
Kristol retorted, “That’s bullshit. That is total bullshit. You think tens of millions of people out there just – even you don’t believe that. You’re just saying that.”
“I totally believe it,” Maher replied. “It happened a month after he took office. Suddenly white people were very upset about debt even though Bush had raised the debt way more than Obama had.”
Kristol responded to that point by noting that the Tea Party movement was also “upset at Bush for raising the debt.”
“There [were] conservatives upset at Bush for raising the debt, and Tea Partiers rebelled against the Republican establishment as well as the Democratic establishment,” Kristol said.
Margaret Hoover, a GOP activist also on the panel, backed Kristol up at that point, noting that Maher had argued that the Tea Party movement was spawned by bailouts – and by Obama’s blackness – and that he cannot have it both ways.
In recent years, Kristol has been standing up more and more for grassroots conservatives. In 2013 and 2014, Kristol fought against Democratic and GOP establishment efforts to grant amnesty to illegal aliens – a stand many in Washington found surprising because of Kristol’s close ties to the GOP establishment.